CORPORAL PUNISHMENT: AN ANALYSIS

Corporal punishment is physical punishment. Law only permits physical forms of punishment to be awarded and executed in case of crimes and that too by an appropriate authority duly constituted following the procedure established by law. The due process of law is always to be respected, and it cannot be bypassed in any situation. Teachers in schools, caretakers in alternative care institutions or parents, are the three categories: self-appointed, extra-judicial authorities who take cognizance of the wrongs committed by their wards, hold their trials, and pronounce as well execute punishments in extreme disregard of the law.

STATUES AND THEIR RELEVANCES:

They claim protection under the provisions of sections 88 and 89 of the Indian Penal Code; Section 88 safeguards “Acts not intended to cause death, done by consent in good faith for person’s benefit” and Section 89 protects “Act done in good faith for the benefit of the child or insane person, by or by consent of the guardian.”

People seek to justify their actions because such physical punishment was given only for the child’s benefit, for their best interest, the objective being to reform the child and prohibit recurrence of bad behavior. U/s 2(9) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, “best interest of the child” means the basis for any decision taken regarding the child, to ensure fulfillment of his fundamental rights and needs, identity, social well-being, and physical, emotional and intellectual development. Corporal punishment serves none of those mentioned earlier purposes.

Children should not be and cannot be, even otherwise, subjected to any punishment as they are presumed to be innocent. Section 3(i) of the JJ Act, 2015 incorporates the presumption of innocence. A child shall be presumed to be incapable of any mala fide or criminal intent up to eighteen years.

INDIAN CONSTITUTION AND CORPORAL PUNISHMENT:

Under the Indian Constitution, violence against children is violative of the right to live with dignity, which is integral to the right to life under Article 21. Further, corporal punishment serves as a deterrent to children from attending school and contributes to the dropout rate. This goes against the right to education as a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21A of our Constitution, held in Hansmukhbhai Golakdas Shah v. the State of Gujarat.

CHILDREN: IN THE DOMAIN OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT:

A child is also a person with all the rights that cannot be abridged. Discipline is something that cannot be taught but can only be learned. Corporal punishments do not serve the purpose of the development of a child. Corporal punishments to children are tantamount to child abuse, and it needs to stop. It is essential to make the people aware of the laws against corporal punishment. Most importantly, we need to change our mindset and adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards violence against children.

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